Why Gamers Should Hate Valve


IDGAF about gaming, honestly. I play very few vidya games. Never had a computer or system as a child, so my go-to entertainments are elsewhere. But I almost entered the video game industry in the Seattle area, came close enough to learn a lot about how it works, and I catch some information about it from the gamer in my life.

Valve is the company that runs Steam – the biggest video game web platform in the world. People use its servers to play shooters and the like. More importantly, people can use Steam to buy and download games with no need of a disk. This is a big deal. Eventually all disk media is going bye-bye, because it’s unnecessary overhead for companies. The next time there’s a big enough collapse in the game market – and there will most definitely be one – the disks won’t pull through.

So in order to sell video games online, you need a storefront for people to peruse. And this is where Steam fails dramatically, where Valve fails as a company. There’s zero oversight of the storefront. They let anybody sell games there, which means literally thousands of people are selling literally fake video games.

What’s a fake video game look like? The scammers get a program for making games, like Unreal Engine or Unity, and they save out a crude template of a “game” populated with stock or purchased assets. These things can look like an army of clones with different names slapped on them, can be chock full of bugs, lack anything resembling game play, and in some cases crash while trying to load at all, or crash and even damage your computer. In some cases, there isn’t even a game in the downloaded package – no executable file to run.

And even without scams, you get class projects from junior high kids across the planet, half-baked vanity projects from twisted megalomaniacs who threaten customers, and you get games with plots like “protect the pedophile anime art from evil nazi muslims.” Steam’s storefront – Valve’s main interface with the world – is an ocean of shit.

This is why gamers should hate Valve: You know what it would take to fix the whole store, easily? Hiring ONE SOLITARY FUCKING EMPLOYEE. You’d think, hey, thousands of games go up on Steam every year. How would one person handle it? Trust me. When you see one of the fake games? You know it. They could eliminate the garbage in swathes by banning companies that put up fake games, leaving them time to deal with issues that require more thought, like how extreme of an ideology are you willing to see promoted in your store? One person could do this. Just one.

For years now, people have been dancing around the mulberry bush with Valve, suggesting this, asking for that, getting pat replies, half-assed actions, and ultimately it’s always the same shit. They try to rely on algorithms to filter the bad games, try to foist the work on some useless robot, because they aren’t willing to hire ONE PERSON, ONE SINGLE HUMAN PERSON to look at the shit, to make the call. To push the button.

It’s libertarian techbro philosophy in a nutshell. Am I losing a ton of money a year from people giving my service the finger? OK, but am I making any money at all? Cool. Then fuck quality, fuck customers, fuck the humans. A tech company should be a server farm that runs itself with zero oversight and occasionally shits out a dollar for the shareholders. Good enough!

I’m not a fan of gamers though. Some individuals are fine, I’m sure, but collectively? Seems like the level of respect they deserve. Libertarian bootlicks for the new robber barons, enjoy the taste my dudes. Lap it up.


Comments

  1. says

    This article is complete garbage. First of all, you’re beating a dead horse. To me it seems like you watched some of Jim Sterlings videos and thought “Wow, he’s so cool. I wanna be JUUUUUUST like him.” Second, you shouldn’t start an article called “Why Gamers Should Hate Valve” with “IDGAF about gaming.” Just some advice for you: Dont make an article about unfamiliar territory. Third, “gamrzzxzz” shouldn’t hate an entire company for one thing. Valve have created many great games, and one bad thing wouldn’t ruin Valve reputation forever. Why am i even wasting my time on this comment?

  2. says

    Normally I have pretty brutal moderation here. I’m not interested in hosting the opinions of any kind of conservative. However, I’m interested in your opinion, so you’ve survived round one. Here’s what I want to know:

    Why do you think of a business entity as a community? Just because a business is small enough that all the employees might recognize each other does not mean that they have any genuine caring for each other. Video game companies are the same backstabbing corporate bullshit as ANY other office work environment – and worse because the people who run them are a lot less sensible about avoiding lawsuits than larger corporations are. I know a guy who worked at a Seattle video game company. People there were weirdly racist against the one half-asian guy on staff and shouted homophobic slurs in the office, occasionally walking around being surly while clutching realistic fake guns.

    After that, I’d like you to address what I actually said. People have been ranking on Steam for YEARS over this, and the whole time the solution was as cheap as hiring ONE person. Valve cares so little about consumers it won’t do that. Why? Why would you defend that?

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @GAS:
    Did you notice the big discussion about the release of Active Shooter by Acid?

  4. silverfeather says

    I’m a gamer – have been since I was pretty young. I use video games to escape from the news when I can’t take it anymore. I use them to connect with friends across the country on a weekly basis and have fun. Occasionally I find a game that is a work of art – it forces me to engage with meaningful questions about death, or morality, or maybe to feel a different perspective from my own. All this to say I value games – they are important to me.
     
    Reading this I felt defensive, and I had to dig into why – especially considering that for the most part I agree with what you’re saying. I think most of it does come from the opening line – “IDGAF about gaming, honestly”. It isn’t that I think that means you are unfamiliar with the topic, more that it read like contempt to me – unqualified contempt of a medium I value, followed by a pretty complete shredding of a company that has brought me some games that I love (yes, GLaDOS is my ringtone). It took effort for me to get past my initial reaction.
     
    I tell you this as a data point – I can understand why some other gamers might get angry at this post and then not actually engage with the content.
     
    Your content is pretty dead-on. I agree that Valve does not care about gamers, or about doing the right thing, or even about video games in general at this point. That’s true of most big video game developers – they care about turning a profit and it doesn’t matter who or what they have to screw over to get that sweet money as long as they can keep raking it in. That’s also true of most big companies. Unchecked capitalism is a cancer that turns everything it touches into shit and ashes.
     
    Being both a gamer and an atheist, I can say that I view those general communities in a similar way. In both cases I approached them with a feeling of kinship and an expectation of belonging – these should be “my people”. In both cases I found a large, mainstream, toxic core of gatekeeping misogynists and bigots who would only welcome me if I was a cool girl willing to reaffirm all the shit they already thought about women (and minorities, and, and, and). Otherwise I was not welcome in the clubhouse.
    I’m keeping the labels (atheist and gamer) because fuck them. I’m not conceding pieces of my identity to those assholes.
     
    Lastly, that Active Shooter game is disgusting, and I hope the people that made it go out of business.

  5. Glor says

    Yeah, steam sucks.
    Besides the no curation thing, there’s also that it functions as DRM (and thus moves more power from the consumer to… actually, not the publishers so much as to steam), the crappy interface (trying to find a certain type of games? Better hope it’s one of the official categories, or you’r SOL), encourages datamining players, customer services is a joke, and to tie it all up: They’re just too big – at this point they’re functioning as a quasi-monopoly.
    A couple of publishers are trying to get their own shops open (Ubisoft, EA), but they’re behaving even worse than Steam.
    The two exceptions I can think of are GOG (which actually was started by a publisher, but is DRM-free and curated) and HumbleBundle (which nowadays mostly functions as a steam reseller… so yeah), but last time I looked at the numbers (it’s been a while, to be honest) they were tiny in comparison.
    In conclusion, fuck steam.

    Regarding “gamers” (meaning what exactly? People that play games? People that consider consider games as one of their primary hobbies?)… one could say the very same things about “roleplayers” 😉
    Both are rather diverse groups of people that have a very loud minority of reactionary cishet white dudes claiming the hobby as their space and trying to erase the importance of women and minorities of all kinds to that hobby, and who’ve managed to seem representative of the hobby to some outsiders.
    Both are hobbies that are becoming increasingly diverse (too slowly, as with everything else, granted), each step leading to some whining by these motherfuckers (“waah, trans people exist and are represented in some small way”, “waah, devs acknowledge non-binary exists by giving you options beyond he/she for pronoun”, “waaah, historical accuracy means we shouldn’t have female combatants. This healing potion is awesome, btw”, “waah, there as many female characters as they are male in the pictures, and almost none of them are white”).

    Then there’s the indie scene, which can cater to whomever they want (within some limits), and thus we get stuff like feminist games that are intentionally subversive of the material they’re based upon (for example Bluebeard’s Bride for RPGs (and misogynistic fairy tales), Ladykiller in a Bind for Visual Novels). I think we’ll be fine, everything considered 😉

    Hell, one could say the same thing about atheists too (Sam Harris&co anyone?), although I’m more hopeful of our winning the fights in roleplaying and computer games (to such an extent that these clowns aren’t viewed as representative anymore) than that one anytime soon.

  6. says

    silver-

    I’ve had the experience of feeling uncomfortable when white people or men were catching some heated discourse, so I’ve got experience with identities I have or once identified more strongly with getting the biz. It puts heat in the cheeks, can make one get wordy and worried. But it doesn’t have to. By now I feel quite comfortable joining in decrying my demographics – fuck white people, fuck atheists, fuck dude-like persons.

    “Gamer” as a cultural class is full of shitheads. “Gamer” as in anyone who plays video games with regularity, that’s a huge swath of highly diverse humanity, most of whom are women. I’m speaking of cultural gamers, and even if that includes you – which it may – I acknowledge there are no doubt many cultural gamers that aren’t shitheads. Sadly, they are not a dominant force. Much like how atheism is functionally ruled by rich white men who serve the needs of power with uncommon venality and abasement.

    Also, as I mentioned in my questions for the first commenter, I think even the “good guy” video game companies get entirely too much unearned good will. They are businesses and the industry is unusually poorly run and rife with corruption and abuse, of employees and customers alike. Individuals within the companies might be alright sometimes, but they are serving bad ends – just like I do every day at work, selling the fruits of prison labor and third world exploitation for a mega-retailer.

    Creative industries in general – see Hollywood and the music industry – are full of psychological abuse and fuckery that are seldom seen on the same level anywhere else. I’ve been spitting distance from the inside, I know video game companies are the same way.

    As to how this affects choosing one’s labels, that’s a personal call. I know a lot of video game players would never call themselves gamers, and a lot of non-theists would never call themselves atheists, because this shit is getting pretty well known. I still call myself an atheist for the practical purposes of turning away the door-knocking evangelists, but how much do identify with the label? It means something, as a word, but also as a cultural descriptor. Where am I with that? I don’t even know.

    glor-

    Thanks for the additional information on The Suck. Also, RPers should absolutely be on the list of cultures overrun with shitheads, along with comic book fans, yeah. As to whether these reactionaries are actually a minority? I’m really not sure. They wield an obscene amount of power within those scenes, though maybe that’s because they get a pass from fucking obtuse moderates more interested in peacekeeping than having a decent culture to play in.

    And yeah, I’m more hopeful for gaming to improve than for atheism, and maybe that’s a more important battle anyway. Also, I think it’s more possible that shitheads are not as numerous as they seem in gaming than in atheism. Some ineffable thing haunts holders of the negative propositions -atheism, asexuality, veganism- that either attracts or produces abusers.

  7. silverfeather says

    Hey Satan, thanks for the response!
     
    I can say “fuck gamers” and “fuck white people” etc all day long without feeling any kind of way about it even though I’m both of those things – I get that it’s shorthand for deserved rage and frustration and I don’t feel the need to try to defend those groups.
     
    That line in your post that hit me in the feels was about gaming, not gamers. The medium. I don’t know if this will help to clarify, but if you were to start a conversation with “IDGAF about reading” or “IDGAF about RPing” I would have the same reaction – it reads like contempt of a medium/experience that I think has value. That’s all.
     
    You say that creative industries in general are full of fuckery that is seldom seen on the same level anywhere else – I’ll have to look into that. If you feel like it and have the energy at some point, I’d love to hear a little bit more about what you mean. 🙂
     
    The label thing is interesting. Of course it is a personal choice how you want to identify, but for me the thought of ceding clear and accurate labels to a group of status quo warrior assholes makes me angry. They don’t get to have it, and I will fight over it.

  8. says

    idgaf thing: I get it, I think. I don’t know that it would bother me – to each their own – but it’s punchy, maybe it would bother depending on my mood of the moment?

    Entertainment: I wouldn’t recommend it but the movie Swimming With Sharks represents the underlying principle well – entertainment industries (movies, theatre, video games, music, comics, etc.) are “the magic place” where dreams are made and sold. People come in with eyes full of stars wanting to be part of the magic, so they settle for casting couch rape, year long unpaid internships, mandatory overtime, opportunities headed off by classism and nepotism, and the biggest constant: lots of verbal abuse.

    On the label thing: if you wanna fight for those labels, that’s cool. Everyone has to pick their battles, what works for us is personal.

  9. silverfeather says

    Ah okay, I see what you’re saying. I worked in video game retail for many years (I do not recommend it) and though I was never as close to the inside of the gaming industry as you seem to have been, I did note quite a bit of exploitation of those who wanted to break in to the industry. Most of what I saw involved the notion that they should be so grateful for the “opportunity” to do what they loved that they shouldn’t be paid for it, and that they should work long hours without complaint.
     
    So, the additional abuse, or the prevalence of it as compared to other industries seems to be tied to the ability to take advantage of people who love the medium and value it, I guess.
     
    Maybe some night when I’m feeling too optimistic about humanity I’ll fire up that movie you don’t recommend, lol.

  10. says

    You got it. Swimming with sharks has Kevin Spacey as the abusive Hollywood insider. The movie does say Hollywood is evil, but ultimately seems to shake out in favor of that – like it’s cool to be a heartless devil type. Along the way, sexism and ableism galore, and ladies are disposable.

  11. lanir says

    I grew up with computer games, board games, books, RPGs (rarely played but highly valued), and a lot of poking at bugs or watching documentaries and otherwise figuring out the world. Books became my go-to, then RPGs when available, then computer games. So, sorry I have more to say on RPGs than computers. 🙂

    Creative Jobs: I can’t say it better than this decision tree graphic does (with bonus for being made by someone who actually gets paid to be creative – I just get paid to make computers work) –> Should I Work For Free?

    Computer Gaming: I played MMO’s as a fun way to group up with friends. When the assholes begin to take over, I generally find no reason to keep playing. Companies are aware of this dynamic although I think they’re honestly rather puzzled about how to police their games. It’s seemed easier to get someone’s name changed because it contained “butt” and someone was fake-offended than getting someone a timeout for being an abusive jackass. This doesn’t address assholes in the back-end selling junk though. The only places I’ve run into that were a sketchy lack of follow-up on some crowd-funded games. Even those had obvious effort go into them, they just went belly up somewhere along the way or half-delivered on some feature set.

    RPG Gaming: I play RPGs for the same friend connections and also to be someone else in unusual circumstances. And as a creative outlet for building my own worlds and scenarios. I’ve played with dozens of different people from those casually interested to those deep into story or the mechanics of gaming. I’d say only about maybe 5% of the roleplayers I’ve met (at most) were real jerks who were destructive to everyone’s fun. Only 2 or 3 really come to mind out of decades of gaming with different groups. Most other people are problematic in some areas but add to the group in other ways, making it more of an art form to match players who will complement with each other. But pencil & paper RPG’s still have core rot and probably always will. D&D still refers to elves, humans and dwarves as different “races” rather than species. It still encourages you to make your decisions about whether or not to kill another thinking creature based on what it looks like and where it lives, then “righteously” steal everything they own. It frequently matches pretty and rich with good as well as matching poor and ugly with evil (Example: How many dungeon runs have you fighting rich orcs on behalf of elven paupers?). The message is clear, brutally ugly, and also core to D&D, which in turn still dominates the pencil & paper RPG market.

  12. says

    MMOs – I only ever played one, and it’s just too repetitive and unrewarding to keep going past a certain point, despite starting strong. That’s “The Secret World” (relaunched as free-to-play / microtransaction-heavy “Secret World Legends”). I don’t know if I’m ever going back to that one or the genre in general. I don’t have to friends on there, and all those games boil down to scalping 5000 rat tails to a plasticky cg dude for a better sticker poker.

    I oughtta consult people like you when I go to make this RPG soon, get some SJW opinions about what not to do. It’s my planned project for July, right after I finish off the last nth of my may nanovel.

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